A Productive 3-Day NYC Itinerary

The article is written by Ellie, the travel blogger who is aiming to inspire people to travel and take themselves outside of their comfort zone.
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I love New York City – always have and always will. I’ve been lucky enough to visit three times now and every time I visit, the city gives me so much energy. Whenever I’m asked about where I see myself living in the future, I always say that I’ll live in NYC one day.

Whether you’d love to move to NYC or visit for a couple of days, there are so many things to see and do in The Big Apple. So if you’re like me and you like to fill your days with as much fun and excitement as possible when traveling, check out my ‘Productive 3-Day NYC Itinerary’ below and prepare yourself for a trip of a lifetime!

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Day 1 – The day of admiring the skyline

1. Start with bagels 

To start off your first day in NYC, there’s only one place to go – the local bagel shop! Every New Yorker I’ve ever met loves bagels, so much so it’s become a part of a typical New Yorker daily routine. In my opinion, my favorite bagel shop is Russ & Daughters located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Freshly cooked in their Brooklyn factory, Russ & Daughters have been making bagels since 1914. 

See the bagel shop on Google Maps

2. Continue to Empire State Building

Empire State Building, NYC
Empire State Building

If you’re as obsessed with NYC’s skyline as I am, I’d recommend dedicating a whole day to exploring the city’s biggest buildings and admiring the views from the top. One of my favorite memories of my first trip to NYC was visiting the most famous: the Empire State Building. This building, for over 40 years the world’s tallest, is the postcard image of the city. However, as the Empire State Building is so popular amongst tourists, I’d recommend booking: Empire State Building General & Skip-the-Line Tickets in order to avoid the queues so you can spend as much time as possible admiring the city’s skyline.

3. Experience The Edge

The Edge, NYC
The Edge, NYC

NYC is the gift that keeps on giving. As if we didn’t have enough opportunities to go to the top of some of its most famous buildings to admire its skylines, another has recently opened and it is certain to take your breath away. The Edge is the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere and gives you a unique view of the city that no other building offers — suspended mid-air and offering views of the city around and below through its glass floor, there’s no experience quite like it in New York. To ensure you can get tickets, I’d recommend booking your Edge Observation Deck Admission Ticket in advance.

4. Make it unforgettable: take a helicopter flight

Helicopter tour view, NYC
Helicopter tour view, NYC

To finish the day in style, take a look at NYC’s skyline from above. Yes, you heard it right — from the sky! Book a spot on a Manhattan Island Helicopter Tour to get a unique perspective of the city that very few ever get to see. Experience the breathtaking views of Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, Hudson River, the Statue of Liberty, and the Intrepid Air and Space Museum, amongst many more NYC highlights, with an expert narration from your pilot.

5. Finish with an Italian restaurant

After a busy day admiring the city from above, it’s time to head back to the streets of NYC to find somewhere to go for dinner. One of my favorite spots is Patsy’s Italian Restaurant, just south of Central Park. My family and I first visited this almost 80-year-old New York institution in 2012 and have been back every time we go to NYC. If you’re looking for delicious food and unforgettable ambience, you won’t regret a trip to Patsy’s — there’s a reason it was a favorite haunt of Frank Sinatra.

Find it on Google Maps

Day 2 – Exploring NYC’s art and culture

1. Start with NYC brunch near museums

Following my thematic itinerary, day two has a focus on New York City’s art and culture. Before exploring the city’s many museums and cultural hotspots, I’d recommend treating yourself to an NYC brunch! 
My recommendation would be Amelie located on Amsterdam Avenue just a 25 minute walk to your first stop of the day: the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Find it on Google Maps

2. Head to Metropolian Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or otherwise known as The Met, is the largest art museum in the Western Hemisphere with over two million works from 5,000 years. As it is NYC’s most visited museum, I’d recommend booking tickets before you visit. Furthermore, if you’re an art fanatic and would like a more detailed tour around the museum, I’d recommend buying tickets for a Metropolitan Museum of Art Guided Tour.

3. Visit the American Museum of Natural History

After visiting the Met, I’d recommend visiting the American Museum of Natural History. Located just a 15-minute walk from the Met, through Central Park, this museum should be on everyone’s bucket list when visiting NYC. The world’s largest natural history museum, it spans four city blocks with 25 interconnected buildings. Sounds good, right? I’d recommend booking your American Museum of Natural History Ticket in advance to avoid the busy lines.

4. Discover your inner spy

Spy Museum NYC, inside
Spy Museum

Ready for one more? Discover your inner spy at SPYSCAPE, New York’s spy museum, which features world-class galleries of spy gadgets and stories. Spot liars, break codes, and dodge lasers to reveal your spy role with interactive challenges. Get your tickets to SPYSCAPE in advance and be prepared to find your inner Bond.

5. Finish with rooftop restaurant

For dinner and drinks, I’d recommend the Cantina Rooftop. From its colorful decor to delicious Mexican cuisine, this Instagram-worthy rooftop restaurant is perfect for foodies. It is located in Hell’s Kitchen, and next to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, should you have time to fit in one more.

Find it on Google Maps

Day 3 – Sampling NYC’s best food spots

1. Ricotta pancakes in Lower Manhattan

If you’re a big foodie like me, you’ll want to plan a day of exploring NYC’s best food spots, right? My recommendation for breakfast, especially if you’d like to try some classic NYC pancakes, is Flippers in Lower Manhattan, open from 10:00 AM Monday through Thursday and 9:00 AM on weekends. Everything is delicious, but be sure to try the lemon ricotta pancakes, just don’t eat. However. Too much as there’s plenty more eating to come throughout the day.

Find it on Google Maps

2. Food tour in Little Italy

After breakfast, make your way to Little Italy and savor the Italian flavors, American style on a two-hour food tour of Manhattan’s most colorful neighborhood. Sample pizzas, prosciutto, and cheeses while learning the history and culture of the neighborhood at family-run bakeries and dairies. The Little Italy Italian Food Tasting Tour is popular, so book ahead to secure your place.

3. Dinner cruise through New York Harbor

To finish the day and your trip to NYC on a high, I’d recommend booking at Luxury Dinner Cruise. Spend the evening aboard a European-inspired, glass-roofed vessel and enjoy a 2- or 3-hour cruise through New York Harbor with live entertainment by an onboard pianist. Taking in the spectacular views from the Hudson and East River as you dine, you’ll see New York City at its finest as the sun sets. Often likely to sell out due to its popularity, I’d recommend booking ahead of time.

It’s clear to see that NYC has many unique experiences on offer and is a real gem for cultural, historical, art and food hotspots. This itinerary is designed to allow you to experience as much as possible in just three days. The hope is that you leave the city feeling as if you’ve had a productive trip and been able to experience just the start of what this great city has to offer. I’d recommend booking all your tours, trips and experiences with GetYourGuide as they offer great value for money and ensure your trip can be as stress-free as possible and allow you to focus on your experience in the Big Apple! Whilst writing this itinerary it’s made me want to book a trip to NYC, so don’t mind me, just off to look at flights…

Hi! I’m Ellie. I write about my travel experiences, top travelling tips and tricks as well as itineraries and e-book guides.

Find me on Instagram and my travel blog

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